NEW YORK -- President Barack Obama's campaign manager quickly pounced on a clandestinely recorded video that shows Mitt Romney dismissing voters who don't pay federal income tax because they are "dependent on government," saying it reveals the former Massachusetts governor has "disdainfully written off half the nation."
Romney painted "the 47 percent" of voters who don't pay federal income taxes with a broad brush in a the leaked fundraising talk with donors, saying they will support Obama "no matter what" in the presidential election.
"It's shocking that a candidate for president of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives," said Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, in a statement. "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation."
Many among "the 47 percent" are the retired senior citizens or unemployed who Romney has sought to appeal to during the campaign. In his videotaped remarks, Romney failed to mention that nearly every American pays taxes of some sort, on everything from gas to their homes, even if they don't have federal income taxes. There are also many people who don't pay federal income tax for reasons beyond their control -- because they've retired or lost their job.
"Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work," Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement responding to the video. "Mitt Romney's plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs."
Romney's other remarks in the discussion with donors yielded more unexpected moments. He joked that he would have an easier time winning the election if he were Latino. He also suggested that Americans don't much care about U.S. foreign policy towards China, Russia, or Iran.